M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Do Cliches Matter if You Got Imagination? -- Review Neal Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane    Don't know what took me so long to read Neil Gaiman's heroic childhood fantasy The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Maybe I was afraid of having my mind blown by what Gaiman does with the cliche of the loner, bookish kid not liking the caregiver his working parents dump on him.

   Of course, Gaiman wrapped the plot in magic, including three powerful immortals who pretend to be human on the farm at the end of the land.  The heroic battle comes after the narrator becomes the means used by a malignant entity to invade our dimension.

   This is supposedly an adult novel, narrated by an adult who had just given an eulogy at a funeral and decides to kill some time between events by visiting some of his childhood haunts. In matter of fact prose, the unnamed main character tells his dark tale of heroic sacrifice. Yet, the whole story takes place during the narrator's childhood, when he was seven-eight years old.

   The beauty in the reading comes in Gaiman's writing. Yeah. The Gaiman gives the reader the realistic whimsey at the core of all his books. It continually amazed me with how he manages to get such preternatural suspense from such a mundane, suburban setting. Even so, the action doesn't seem to have had much effect on the character. You might even say the story lacks character development. The kid seemed much the same to me at the end as the two ladies who livied at the end of the lane.

   I felt the tale skimmed along the surface of some great thoughts. The story did become a lyrical poem to the wonders of childhood with all its mysteries and what ifs. The bottom line, I think, is that Neil Gaiman has written another modern fairytale in his spare style with depths buried in the action rather than the description.

   Writers can take lessons from how Gaiman creates his images without noticeable adjectives. His descriptions widen the possibilities in the reader's imagination. Most writers narrow down the possibilities within their story lines.

A delightful coming of age story, beautifully written, which will stick into the back of your mind and resurface at unexpected times. Gaiman's amazing imagination and story-telling make this a must read for fantasy readers. You can read more reviews and samples on
Amazon     &     B&N Nook

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A Writer's Tool Kit & Interesting Links

   Came across a blog: Write Small: 5 Ways to Make Your Readers Care on Writer's Write by Mia Botha. One thing struck me was that people react to social crises much the same. They pick one cause or the problem of one person to work on. It's the details that matter.

   This pipsqueak writer is far too small to worry about Hugos or Nebulas, but it seems to me everyone should be aware of the current nomination process at the Hugos, a popularity contest which has always ignored some of the most enduring writers in the fantasy/science fiction genres. The Passive Guy, my favorite writing guru, posted this blog: Some Sad Puppy Data Analysis.

   Don't know how many of you read historical mysteries, but Jeri Westerson recently wrote a blog about how she came to write medieval mysteries: Writing Was My Secret. It made me wonder how many readers are secret writers. It's no secret that writers are readers.

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    Did enjoy my sister-in-law and daughter's visit. She says she enjoyed it too--in spite of the cottonwoods doing their spring-thing. Barely managed to keep my emails cleaned. The break did energize my #writing. While my brain forgot about the plot of On the Run, the back stories and socio-magical-political structure fell into place. The action and time lines in the whole Andor series have become more coherent in my brain. Like Doom for a Sold Soul happens before the Celestial Wars. Surprising since I write by the seat of my pants. Maybe there's some scientific basis for automatic writing.

   Didn't get anything done on my website...though people seem to be visiting it before I get all the SEO done. Since I haven't gotten anything corrected for the public. Here's the first paragraph of the current version of On the Run, which happens after the Celestial Wars.

   The waitress chewed a wad of gum so large her white-coated tongue appeared each time her jaw moved. Pillar Beccon lowered her eyes at the sight. “I’d like extra cheese.”

   It does get a little more exciting when she and her friends encounter a stalker at the bus station.


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